Farming Faith by Dani Yaros


Parashat BeHar begins with the Pasuk “VaYedabeir Hashem El Moshe BeHar Sinai” “Hashem spoke to Moshe on Mount Sinai.” The Torah then continues to articulate all the laws of Shemittah and Yovel: that all agricultural activities must cease every seventh year, as well as every fiftieth year.  Rashi queries why the Torah specifies that Shemittah was given on Har Sinai; after all, every Mitzvah was given on Har Sinai!  Rashi answers that just as Shemittah was given on Har Sinai, all other Mitzvot were given on Har Sinai.

Many wonder why Hashem specifically chose Shemittah to signify that all Mitzvot were given on Har Sinai.  In his Sefer on Chumash, Darash Moshe, Rav Moshe Feinstein explains that specifically by Shemittah do we learn that all Mitzvot are from Hashem.  While Shemittah is not a Chok – a Mitzvah that is impossible to understand – as it does increase one’s land’s productivity by allowing it to rest for a year, the concept of refraining from planting for an entire year is certainly quite challenging.  No one without complete faith that Hashem will provide enough grain for the Shemittah year would ever refrain from sowing his field.  It is specifically this Mitzvah, however, that retains such an important status as it signifies one’s ultimate devotion and trust in Hashem.  On a similar note, the Chatam Sofer explains that it is specifically our trust in Hashem that He will provide enough produce for up to three years (as Yovel is after Shemittah) that makes this mitzvah particularly important.  Furthermore, the Vilna Gaon teaches that the main function of Matan Torah is to inspire trust in Hashem.  One can only imagine the unbelievable faith that each individual Jew had in Hashem that would lead him to keep a commandment such as Shemittah.  Almost every person risked his economic well being once every seven years.  We too must try to attain such high levels of trust in Hashem, especially this year, when Shemittah is observed in Eretz Yisrael.

Last But Not Least by Rabbi Darren Blackstein

Shemittah: A Year of Torah Study by Zev Kahane